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How do I control my cholesterol?

        Health | Heart

Here are the main steps you can take to improve your cholesterol levels.

  • Eat a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking, if you smoke.
  • Lose excess weight.
  • Take medicine, if your doctor prescribes it.
  • Have your cholesterol checked as often as your doctor recommends.

If you have high levels of cholesterol in your blood, your chances of developing coronary heart disease, called CHD, are greater than if your blood cholesterol levels are within standard limits. That's because cholesterol in your blood can build up on the walls of your arteries. The more cholesterol, the greater the risk of this buildup. Over time, this may narrow your arteries. This means your blood carries less blood, oxygen, and nutrients. This damage to your arteries contributes to CHD and heart attacks. The only way to know if your cholesterol is high is to have it checked with a simple blood test.

If you already have CHD, the level of cholesterol in your blood is especially important. By controlling your cholesterol levels, you can help prevent further damage to your heart and blood vessels and decrease your risk for a heart attack.

What can I do about my cholesterol?

The way you choose to live your life can go a long way toward preventing or controlling high cholesterol levels. To learn how to make the efforts to lower your cholesterol levels, see:

When lifestyle changes alone aren't enough, doctors can prescribe any number of effective medicines. Your doctor can help you decide what you need to do about your cholesterol levels.